Leader Volume 8, Number 8
People for Enhanced Team Performance
Seagal is president and Mr. Horne is partner
of Human Dynamics International in Topanga, CA (phone
310-455-1149; email email@example.com; www.humandynamics.com).
They are authors of Human
Dynamics: A New Framework for Understanding People and Realizing
the Potential in Our Organizations (Pegasus, Waltham, MA,
1997; can order through above phone/email).
A fundamental key
to enhanced team functioning lies not only in recognizing that
people are different, but also in understanding how
they are different. Awareness of these differences provides the
opportunity for group members to recognize, appreciate and utilize
the gifts that each naturally embodies, and to use their diversity
to create synergism. The
result is not only enhanced productivity, but also more joy at
decades of studies, we have identified nine “personality
dynamics.” Five of
them are by far the most numerous.
They are termed 1) mental-physical, 2) emotional-mental, 3)
emotional-physical, 4) physical-emotional and 5) physical-mental.
is not so important as the understanding that people who represent
these distinct “ways of being” are totally different in the
ways they process information, solve problems, learn, communicate,
become stressed, maintain health, move along their path of
development and function on teams.
sketches of these personality dynamics.
people think and plan in an orderly, logical and sequential way. They are, by nature, consistently detached.
Even in emotional situations they typically remain calm and
maintain a bird’s-eye perspective on events, and usually bring
gifts for formulating and articulating a long-range vision, and
for strategic planning to achieve long-term goals.
They don’t usually involve themselves in creating
complex, detailed plans, however.
They tend to deal more in essentials: essential points,
values, and principles. In whatever they personally engage or
communicate, clarity and precision are key values.
people may often be silent in a group.
They typically feel no need to articulate a point if
someone else is making it. Also,
because they think logically and like to express their point of
view precisely, they may have difficulty finding space to
contribute in a less-than-orderly group process.
Because of their detachment and because they are
comfortable working alone, mental-physical people may be
misinterpreted as being aloof and not caring.
In fact their caring is expressed in their offering of
objectivity, which typically enables them to be good listeners and
helpful in situations of conflict.
They are often able to voice principles or overarching
considerations that unify apparently disparate views.
If you want to know what a quiet mental-physical person is
thinking or feeling, ask him or her!
used by mental-physical people include: “What exactly is the
purpose?” “What are the long-term implications?” “What
exactly do you mean by...?”
The thinking and
planning of emotional-mental people is much less linear than that
of the mental-physical. Emotional-mental
people very much enjoy an interactive brainstorming kind of
process, in which one idea triggers another, and new possibilities
and lines of inquiry are explored.
Their ideas are directed towards short-term problem
One of the main
gifts of this group is to initiate--to light the fires of new
endeavors. They are
drawn to the new and unknown.
Movement is their inner directive.
If they don’t feel a sense of movement and new challenge,
their spirit dies. Rather
than plan ahead in detail, they prefer to establish the direction
of a task, its purpose and value, and then move into action as
soon as possible, learning as they go.
This experimental movement leads to a new situation,
reassessment, another movement, and so on until the goal is
reached. In team
meetings, people of this personality dynamic frequently begin the
discussion, facilitate the interplay of ideas, and want to keep
the process moving forward.
Because of their
characteristic enthusiasm and intensity of focus, members of this
group can be misinterpreted as needing to take charge and
“direct the show.” In
fact, they welcome their ideas being challenged, because new and
better ideas might emerge.
you may hear from emotional-mental people include: “Let’s put
all the ideas on the board and prioritize.”
“The details can wait -- first let’s create a general
structure.” “It’s good enough.”
emotional-mental group, emotional-physical people also think and
plan in a non-linear, associative kind of way.
They, too, like to think and plan with others; but
preferably in a more personal process in which their feelings play
a role and they feel a sense of personal relationship with the
other team members. For
them, not only can one idea lead to another, but a feeling
may trigger a line of thought, or surface a personal recollection
that may suggest other avenues for exploration.
In teamwork, emotional-physical people are engaged not only
in an exchange of ideas, but a process of personal connection.
people are highly sensitive to both their own feelings and the
feelings of others. They
can often pick up the feelings of other people, even if those
feelings are not being overtly expressed.
On teams, therefore, they are always aware both of
addressing purposes and also of tracking the quality of the
team’s process and fostering harmony.
They are usually highly effective in providing insight into
“people issues,” and are sensitive to personal implications of
decisions, both for themselves and for others.
They typically need time to engage in extensive discussion
in order to explore, understand and feel comfortable with these
implications before they are ready to move on.
They also require dialogue with others to clarify both
their thinking and feeling.
people tend to be multi-focused and able to handle many things at
once. They are also
highly intuitive, both about people, and also with regard to the
viability of proposed courses of action.
Since they often cannot give a rational explanation for
what they sense in the moment, their “knowings” may not be
taken seriously. But
given time, the emotional-physical person will usually come to a
rational understanding of his/her intuition, and both the
individual and the team may learn by experience that it is a
signal to be trusted. Emotional-physical
people are often also extremely creative.
The intuitive and creative capacities of these people are
natural resources that groups and organizations often neglect.
people can be misinterpreted as being too personal, unclear and
fact, their sensitivity and their capacity for making personal
connections should be valued for its potential to help people live
and work together in greater harmony.
Communication is their lifeline.
Through it they gain clarity and can contribute their gifts
to others. In a
supportive atmosphere, where they feel understood and comfortable,
their capacity for creative input will bloom.
characteristic of emotional-physical people are: “Is that
comfortable for you?” “I
feel that....” “My gut feeling is.....”
“Can we talk more about that?”
“If we do (or say) that, I think the effect on ______
people are by nature “systems thinkers.”
They think naturally in terms of how all of the parts
interact to form whole systems of operation.
In any new undertaking, they spend the greatest amount of
time in gathering large amounts of data, which they then
assimilate and synthesize through a rather mysterious internal
process which isn’t consciously planned.
If sufficient time is
allowed for this process to complete itself, all of the data
will at some point come together in the person’s mind, and the
result will be a plan or product that’s detailed, comprehensive,
highly practical, and with all of the parts linked.
They are often of
few words, preferring communication that’s factual, down to
earth and pragmatic. They need time to assimilate the vast amounts
of information they take in.
These characteristics, as well as their difficulty in
articulating their thinking until it is complete, often cause them
to be misinterpreted as being “slow.”
In fact, they move very quickly into action in situations
that are familiar. In
new situations, they will produce the most comprehensive plans and
detailed work, provided their process is respected and given
sufficient time. Their
capacity to remember detail is prodigious.
They are natural historians, and their memory for the past
can ensure that a group doesn’t waste time re-inventing the
physical-emotional person is silent during a meeting, it may be
because the pace isn’t sufficiently deliberate, or the group
process is too disconnected, or because a great deal of new
information is being given. The
team will benefit by remembering to ask such a person, especially
towards the end of any meeting, if he or she has anything to say.
The members may be surprised by how much the individual has
observed and absorbed and is able to comment on.
It is often helpful to such people to be provided with
relevant data before a meeting, to allow more time for absorption,
without the distraction of the group’s interactions.
Because they tend
to be conscious of themselves more as members of a group than as
individuals within a
group, physical-emotional people often need to learn to make known
their own personal wishes, feelings and needs.
phrases of physical-emotional people are:
“Can we have more information?”
“How will that work practically?” “Can you give me an
example?” “How much time do we have?”
“We need to have a real experience, not just talk."
people also naturally think in terms of systems of operation, but
they are highly systematic. Like the physical-emotional group, they take in large amounts
of information, but they are more selective of what they take in.
They work with their data through step-by-step plans for
achieving a given purpose. Because they think in such a systematic way, it’s important
for them that the purpose of any meeting or endeavor be clearly
defined, and then they like the group to create a structured
process for achieving that purpose.
Without a clear purpose and a structured process for
achieving it, they feel frustrated and unable to function.
mental-physical group, they have natural gifts for objectivity and
strategic planning; but they typically deal with much more
information and create plans that are much more detailed.
They switch easily between a macro- and micro-perspective.
people typically value efficiency, and constantly create systems
to make things work well. They
then refine the systems to make them work even better.
These people often carry their remarkable capacity for
planning into every aspect of their lives, usually creating
additional contingency plans in anticipation of unforeseen events.
They can become frustrated by other people’s less
organized way of going about things, and when others’ personal
whims and feelings disrupt or interfere with their plans.
Others can therefore see them as being rigid and
over-mechanical, and interpret them as not caring about other
people. In fact,
their gift for planning is their offering to others.
of physical-mental people are; “What’s our purpose?” “What’s the current situation?” “Where do we want to
work out the steps to get there.”
“Suppose _____ happens, then what will we do?”
attention to these personality dynamics, you should gain insights
into the behavior of some of the people with whom you interact.
As a result, your teamwork will be more harmonious and